This is not the shitty Filipino bar from below post, but another shitty bar that I spent waaaay too much time in back in the day. We regulars referred to it as the Stabbin’ Cabin, naturally.

One of the perks of living directly above my folks are their concert nights. Now by concert I don’t mean they are actually singing, but very often, my Mother is, and not knowing the words doesn’t stop her. Often it’s after they’ve arrived home from an event or dinner and are having a nightcap on the porch, and they get up to spinning the tunes, and I can’t help but hear the music through my floorboards, their ceiling. It’s pleasant for them and me, because c’mon – who doesn’t love having to tell their Mom to turn down her damn rock and roll music?!?

Prine is usually in there, as well as some Guy Clark, but it can be anything from Dr. John to Bo Diddly and I love that they mix it up as they have broad eclectic tastes. Tonight I hear the strains of Masquerade by George Benson and god I’d forgotten all about that song. I can picture them shuffling around in the kitchen, doing their little salt-and-pepper shaker dance.*

The song also instantly whizzed me backwards in time to a shitty Filipino bar in Van Nuys California in the early 90’s, where my pals and I would sing karaoke and shoot sake’. Our friend Bob would often select Masquerade and it was always a crowd pleaser. He also had a much lauded rendition of Girl from Ipanema, and the room would almost always erupt in applause when he took the stage. When we were about a mile away from arriving at this joint Bob would start driving erratically and jerk his car all over the road, while also announcing in a pilot impersonation that our plane is going down right into the center of Manilla, and we better have our fucking passports ready. We would squeal with laughter/terror as our bleached blonde beach hair flew around his car and we held onto each other and our cocktails, and it was probably after midnight on a Tuesday.**

The Filipino couple that ran the joint knew him by name and they adored it when Bob and his entourage arrived, drinks flowing and bills slinging. It was a fleeting summer but the memories of those warm nights in the Valley will never fade away, even in my soggy alcoholic brain.

That’s the beauty of music, isn’t it? It can transport you to another place and another time, with one single note. I can’t wait to hear the rest of tonight’s playlist, and see what flashbacks pop up as well.

*they’re both small-statured and when side by side I think they resemble a lovely ceramic set

** I cannot start a movie past 8pm these days lol


    1. Thank you! I’ve decided I’m just going to write. Whatever. Whenever. I need to get out of my cocoon and if not now, when? Right? Thanks for STILL READING, even after a year’s absence!

  1. Jenny: Brilliant as always, and I am delighted to hear your voice again. You have a wonderful way of taking the specific and making it universal. And you are so right about the magical ability of music to generate long-buried memories. My grandchildren just shake their heads in sarcastic disgust every time they say something, and it triggers a memory and starts me singing a lyric from decades ago. Or maybe it’s the concomitant dance that they find repugnant. Keep writing!

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